Welcome to our 1&1 web hosting review. 1&1 is an international web hosting provider that has been in business for over 26 years. It has servers in 10 different countries including Germany, Spain, Great Britain and the United States, and currently holds over 15 million customer contracts.
Despite these credits, 1&1 is one of the most confusing web hosting providers we have ever tested. While it offers plenty of hosting options, the inconsistency across every area of the service makes 1&1 feel like a distant provider, out of touch with the market trends and the consumer.
That said, in certain cases 1&1 is the cheapest service out there and we recommend people on a budget visit 1&1 Web Hosting to check it out. If you’re not sure if 1&1 is your thing, we recommend you read our other web hosting reviews instead.
- 100% uptime guarantee
- Extensive knowledgebase
- Dedicated WordPress hosting
- Unlimited email
- Paid phone support
- Paid malware removal tool
- Very easy to use
- Best WordPress hosting provider
- Multiple hosting options
- Useful help center
- Bad customer support reputation
- CPU throttling
- Cheap shared hosting
- Useful help center
- Free SSL certificates
- DDoS protection
- Cloud hosting plans
- No email support
- Inconsistent pricing
- Confusing control panel
- Difficult signup process
Across all plans, 1&1 has plenty of features that impress. While this showing won’t carry over into the other sections of this review, it’s nice to see here. Not all plans have the same features, but that’s forgivable when considering the price and intended use for each server.
Shared plans have features that keep the price low while still giving plenty of performance. First is gzip, a compression method for files stored on the server. By reducing the amount of data being transfered, page load times are faster for the user, something rewarded in Google search rankings.
Along with gzip, shared plans feature the HTTP/2 protocol. This newer protocol improves over HTTP/1.1, compressing the header leading to faster page load times. Again, this is rewarded in search rankings.
SSD storage is available on all cloud, dedicated and VPS plans. Cloud hosting improves speeds with SSD storage. A solid state drive uses flash memory as opposed to the traditional spinning disk. SSDs improve speed and reliability over traditional drives due to the lack of a mechanical disk that could fail.
Also included on those three plans is the choice between Linux or Windows. Since all of the plans include root level access, you can choose a server that runs on the operating system you want. You can install any software, so long as it’s supported by the operating system.
Out of every area of 1&1, this is the best. The feature list shows a very different side of the company, one that understands the current world of web hosting and the needs of the consumer.
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Upon first glance, 1&1 has, by far, the cheapest hosting prices out there. However, the multiple time-based promotions, and nonlinear pricing breakdown shows that the advertised rates aren’t the full story.
The most basic plans are simply known as “web hosting.” While 1&1 doesn’t specify that these are shared servers, it’s pretty safe to assume they are, due to the low price and scalability options. The most basic plan can be purchased for 0.85€ per month for a one year commitment. 10.25€ for an entire year of hosting is impressive, but the renewal rate of 7.68€ per month is still a few dollars above the competition.
Dedicated servers shows the same disparity in advertised and renewal rates, but the prices still remain low. 1&1 manages to keep servers on the list that are lower powered and, thus, cheaper. While scoring a Xeon will still run you in the ballpark of 102.5€ per month, the lower priced options are something I haven’t seen with other hosting companies.
Cloud hosting breaks the pricing scheme set by the other services. Instead of giving entry discounts and price breaks for multi-year commitments, 1&1’s cloud hosting offers only a month to month rate. While I can appreciate the straightforward pricing, the rates are simply too high.
A comparable plan at HostGator will run only 11.06€ per month, while a plan at 1&1 will run 21.35€ per month (read up on the details of this in our HostGator review).
1&1 VPS Hosting
The straightforward pricing isn’t carried into VPS hosting. 1&1 jumps back to multi-year price breaks and up-charged renewals. Even at the higher renewal rate, 1&1’s VPS plans come in cheaper than DreamHost’s, which run around 4.27€-10 more per month (for the full pricing, check out our DreamHost review).
Overall, 1&1’s pricing breakdown is just confusing. It’s one thing to advertise a multi-year price, or to add introduction discounts, but the inconsistency is frustrating. It appears that 1&1 didn’t do much market research when setting prices, as the breakdown is all over the place internally, and not steady with current pricing schemes at other hosting companies.
1&1 offers four different types of hosting, with extra shared servers focused on WordPress. The options consist of shared, VPS, dedicated and cloud hosting. While 1&1 misses out on reseller plans like A2 and HostGator offer, there are still plenty of options to choose from.
Shared plans are exactly what the name implies, you share a server with others. Multiple websites are hosted on the same server, with resources ebbing and flowing depending on the needs of a site. It’s like an ISP who will throttle speeds if a user isn’t currently connected to the Internet.
The “Basic” plan is a little limiting, though. Only one domain can be hosted, with up to 100GB of storage. To get something useful, “Unlimited Plus” or higher should be purchased, considering it’s only a few dollars more and offers unlimited domains, storage and email addresses.
Next are the WordPress plans. These are just shared plans specifically tailored for WordPress. The plans come with WordPress pre-installed at your domain and boast SSD storage. 1&1 claims the SSDs will boost speeds up to 50 percent, but saying that’s a generous estimate would be an understatement.
A virtual private server (VPS) shares physical resources with another server, but operates within a virtual machine. 1&1 offers both Linux and Windows VPS plans, both fit with SSD storage and full root level access.
1&1 Dedicated Servers
Dedicated servers are much more expensive, but give you a server all to yourself. The configurations at 1&1 vary quite a bit, ranging from dirt cheap servers to those completely specced out. It’s nice to see that 1&1 offers low-spec dedicated options for those who want the benefit of a private server without forking out a ton of cash.
While 1&1 doesn’t offer reseller plans, it does offer cloud hosting. Some companies offer one or both, but these two are generally left behind. Cloud hosting spreads your site across many servers, sometimes thousands. You get reliability because if one server goes down, your site stays live, and scalability because you can always occupy more servers.
The most interesting cloud hosting plan at 1&1 is called “Cloud Server FLEX.” This plan allows you to choose the number of CPU cores, amount of memory and the amount of storage and updates the price in real time.
1&1 is, unfortunately, missing out on reseller plans. Still, there are plenty of options to choose from. Seeing cheap dedicated hosting and flexible cloud hosting puts 1&1 above the competition, in this area at least.
Much like the prices, signing up for hosting is just as confusing. Option paralysis quickly sets in when trying to choose a plan, and a hidden control panel makes managing your site a chore.
Starting with choosing a plan, 1&1 shows off way too many options, making the choice a difficult one to make.
For everything outside of shared hosting, there is a list of every server they have, ripe with specs. While I can appreciate 1&1 listing specs for the servers, the abundance of information can be very difficult to decipher, especially for those new to the web hosting world.
Choosing a shared hosting plan is much more straightforward. 1&1 lists only three plans, void of specs and with basic terms for newcomers. I would have liked to see 1&1 breakdown the other plans like this so that choosing a plan, even a more expensive one, could be a fluid process.
Once you figure out the plan you want, you’ll land in 1&1’s pseudo-control panel. This area isn’t the real control panel, but nonetheless where you land once you login. To actually manage your site, you’ll need to click the “hosting” option which will take you to the real control panel, and then navigate to the home area of that.
I can’t figure out why 1&1 wouldn’t have you land in the main control panel to begin with. This area is nicely laid out, with all of the options you need broken down into simple, easy to use categories.
Adding the extra step creates confusion, and, despite how easy the control panel is to use, I can’t see myself going through the process of navigating it when I want to manage my site.
As with many other areas of 1&1, the ease of use is, at best, inconsistent. Really good is mixed with really bad, and a streamlined system could do wonders for the service. Strip back on the options and the extra steps, and 1&1 would have a simple process. Unfortunately, right now, that isn’t the case.
While other areas are inconsistent, there seem to be plenty of security features with 1&1. Included with even the lowest plans is an SSL certificate, DDoS protection and 1&1 SiteLock. Due to having multiple data centers around the world, most plans also come with geo-redundancy meaning if one server fails, you’ll get switched to another with little to no downtime.
Included free with your hosting is a 1&1 SSL certificate. It does sell certificates from Symantec, but the 1&1 certificate is included for free. A secure socket layer (SSL) certificate verifies your domain as “secure” to search engines and anyone landing on your site.
What this means is that sensitive information, such as passwords and credit cards, are encrypted while in transfer between the host and the user. If you have a user area or intend to sell products, an SSL certificate is a must.
Next comes 1&1’s protection against DDoS attacks. I’m not exactly sure how the protection works, but I assume it’s similar to CloudFlare. Basically, 1&1 will monitor suspicious spikes in traffic and protect your site before it can be taken offline.
Lastly is 1&1’s SiteLock, a malware detection and removal tool. It’s like an antivirus for your website. The automatic tool scans your site for vulnerabilities (up to 500 subpages), trying to find any piece of malware or spam.
Every security measure at 1&1 lines up with the best web hosting providers. However, while other web hosting companies partner with third parties, 1&1’s security is all in-house. On paper, everything looks fine, but I’d be cautious of how well these tools work, especially in light of missteps elsewhere.
At 1&1, there is only one form of contact, by phone. Outside of the, admittedly useful, help center, 1&1 doesn’t offer any other support. In the world of web hosting, lacking in this area is unacceptable.
The most consistent form of contact is by phone. 1&1 does offer live chat, but only kind of. There is no way to access live chat from the support page or control panel. The only way you can use it is if a live chat box happens to pop up when you are on the website.
I tested this feature a bit to see when and how this window pops up. From what I can tell, the live chat window will only appear if you are logged out and browsing plans. Since it’s probably based on some sort of cookie, the window will only show within the first few minutes of browsing the site as well.
So, 1&1 does have live chat, but I can’t figure out why it’s limited to prospective customers. If it’s going to go through the trouble of setting up this type of system, then the support should be available to everyone.
Trying to pull a positive, phone support is available 24/7/365, and the staff is very helpful. Honestly, the support here isn’t bad. What is bad is that 1&1 doesn’t meet the consumers needs with multiple forms of contact. Like almost every other area of 1&1, support is inconsistent, mixing really good with really bad.
The help center, thankfully, is a different story. 1&1 has plenty of articles from defining what an SSL certificate is to transferring files using an FTP client. Articles are cleanly laid out with step-by-step instruction and plenty of screenshots. While the database of topics isn’t massive, most people should find what they’re looking for here.
Despite being 26 years old, 1&1 seems to still be an adolescent phase. Inconsistency across the board makes the whole process seem unreliable, and that’s not something you want when looking for a web hosting company.
Unfortunately, 1&1 comes off as a product that went to market too quickly, with a lack of solid support, inconsistent pricing and confusing user experience. If you’re willing to go through the hassle, you may find a decent rate depending on your plan at 1&1 Web Hosting. However, if you don’t want the fuss, you’re better off taking a look at our web hosting comparison instead.
What is your experience with 1&1? Let us know in the comments below, thank you for reading.